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Some Memorable Chicago-St. Louis History: Cubs vs. Cardinals Preview, Friday 5/28, 1:20 CT

Recently, Chris Jaffe at Hardball Times ranked what he felt were the ten greatest Cubs/Cardinals games of all time.

While there are indeed some great games in that post (the Sandberg Game, Don Cardwell's no-hitter, a critical game in the 1945 pennant race), Chris neglected to mention one particular series that was perhaps the most intensely played regular season series in Wrigley Field history.

The Cardinals had been scheduled for a four-game series at Wrigley starting on Labor Day 2003, September 1. It became a five-game series due to a rainout on May 11 which we dubbed the "Typhoon Game" -- a game played in 45 degree temperatures with 40+ MPH winds that got called after four innings of play in appalling conditions. The Cubs came into the series trailing St. Louis by 1.5 games. On September 1, a scheduled 1:20 start was delayed nearly three hours by rain, but after it started, Mark Prior threw eight shutout innings in the first game of the series and the Cubs won 7-0. In the 2nd game, the first of a scheduled day-night DH, the Cubs left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and it took a two-run walkoff by Sammy Sosa in the 15th inning for a 4-2 Cubs win that took almost five hours and pushed back the start of the night game by an hour.

In that second game, the Cubs were trailing 2-0 in the last of the 7th with the bases loaded when Moises Alou hit a ball that landed down the LF line near the bullpen, just fair. Unfortunately, Triple-A replacement umpire Jay Klemm (who never umpired in the majors again after 2003) called it foul -- it would have cleared the bases and given the Cubs a 3-2 lead. Reliever Antonio Alfonseca jumped out of the bullpen and bumped Klemm, earning a seven-game suspension (Cubs fans, not happy with Alfonseca's performance in '03, joked that the team was going to appeal and ask for the suspension to be increased). The Cubs lost the game 2-0.

But we're not done yet! The next afternoon, Matt Clement was trailing 2-0 in the sixth when for some unfathomable reason, Dusty Baker called on rookie lefthander Felix Sanchez to make his major league debut in this critical situation: runners on second and third and two out. Sanchez walked Fernando Vina and then gave up a grand slam to J.D. Drew. (Sanchez, at the time considered a pretty decent prospect at age 21, made two more appearances for the Cubs in '03, was sent to the Tigers in a minor league deal the next year and never again pitched in the major leagues.)

The Cubs pulled to within 7-6 on homers by Aramis Ramirez, Alou and Alex Gonzalez and took the lead 8-7 in the bottom of the eighth. In the ninth, Joe Borowski came in and retired the side in order, striking out future Cub Jim Edmonds swinging to end it -- that's about the loudest I ever heard Wrigley during a regular season game. The 8-7 win on September 3 put the Cubs only half a game behind the Cardinals -- and the next day, in a back-and-forth game, the Cubs again won by one run, 7-6, moving ahead of the Cardinals and within half a game of the Astros, who they eventually defeated for the NL Central title.

Those games were all memorable, and the entire series was unforgettable. Let's hope the Cubs make some great memories for us this weekend. Cardinals? Bring 'em on.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Randy Wells
Randy Wells
vs. Chris Carpenter
Chris Carpenter
3-2 W-L 5-1
3.99 ERA 3.09
45 SO 61
11 BB 18
5 HR 9
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs

2010 - Randy Wells 3-2 9 9 0 0 0 0 56.1 60 26 25 5 11 45 3.99 1.26

2010 - Chris Carpenter 5-1 10 10 0 0 0 0 67.0 58 28 23 9 18 61 3.09 1.13

Chris Carpenter has always been tough on the Cubs -- 9-3, 2.81 in 17 career starts, and even better last year, when he was 2-0 with a no-decision in three starts with a 1.42 ERA. He has allowed nine home runs already this year, though; he gave up only seven all last year. They have occurred in a strange pattern: two in his first start, three in his second, then none for five straight outings, then four in his last three. Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano have had good success against him; combined, they are 27-for-79 (.342) against him with three HR.

Randy Wells' only career start against the Cardinals was last July 12 at Wrigley Field, a game better known as the "Sean Marshall In Left Field" game. Wells gave up four runs in seven innings, not a bad outing; all the runs were on a pair of two-run homers by Ryan Ludwick. The rest of the Cardinals went 5-for-22 (.227) against Wells, all singles, and he held Albert Pujols to an 0-for-4.

Today's game is on WGN and FSN Midwest. As yesterday, the Cubs are also being picked up by the MLB Network for national coverage -- I assume using the Cardinals feed, as MLB Network usually doesn't pick up WGN. Here is the rest of the Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Cardinals site Viva El Birdos.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 1:15 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 2:15, 3:15 and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.